August 8, 2020

Musicals feel like heaven to me, because they portray a world that solves some specifically autistic problems.

For example, I’m not great at reading between the lines to figure out a person’s true intentions. Musicals solve this through solo songs that reveal exactly what the character is thinking and feeling.

Also, the real world has very few “socially acceptable” ways to express strong emotions. Musicals solve this by making it normal to sing triumphantly, gesture dramatically, and dance freely.

Perhaps the biggest problem that musicals solve is the awkward, unscripted guesswork of human interaction. In a musical, everyone magically knows how to exist in harmony with everyone else, giving poetic responses in perfect timing, gracefully falling into sync with one another – all while maintaining the illusion that everything is improvised through a secret mutual understanding.

I’ll never master the lyrics and choreography of the neurotypical world, but life feels a bit more like a musical when I’m around other autistics. I wouldn’t describe our interactions as effortless harmony, but we tend to value clarity and freedom of expression – making it easier to talk through misunderstandings, and give one another space and grace.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.